What is Right Concentration?

Fixing the mind to a single object (“One-pointedness of mind”): this is concentration. The four Fundamentals of Attentiveness (seventh step): these are the objects of concentration. The four Great Efforts (sixth step): these are the requisites for concentration. The practicing, developing and cultivating of these things: this is the “Development” of concentration.

Right Concentration has two degrees of development:

  • “Neighborhood-Concentration,” which approaches the first trance, without however attaining it;
  •  “Attainment Concentration,” which is the concentration present in the four trances. The attainment of the trances, however, is not a requisite for the realization of the Four Ultramundane Paths of Holiness; and neither Neighborhood-Concentration nor Attainment-Concentration, as such, in any way possesses the power of conferring entry into the Four Ultramundane Paths; hence, in them is really no power to free oneself permanently from evil things. The realization of the Four Ultramundane Paths is possible only at the moment of insight into the impermanence, miserable nature, and impersonality of phenomenal process of existence. This insight is attainable only during Neighborhood-Concentration, not during Attainment-Concentration. He who has realized one or other of the Four Ultramundane Paths without ever having attained the Trances is called a “Dry-visioned One,” or one whose passions are “dried up by Insight.” He, however, who after cultivating the Trances has reached one of the Ultramundane Paths, is called “one who has taken tranquility as his vehicle.

THE FOUR TRANCES

Detached from sensual objects, detached from unwholesome things, the disciple enters into the first trance, which is accompanied by “Verbal Though,” and “Rumination,” is born of “Detachment,” and filled with “Rapture,” and “Happiness.”

This first trance is free from five things, and five things are present. When the disciple enters the first trance, there have vanished [the 5 Hindrances]: Lust, Ill-will, Torpor, and Dullness, Restlessness and Mental Worry, Doubts; and there are present: Verbal Thought, Rumination, Rapture, Happiness, and Concentration.

And further: after the subsiding of verbal thought and rumination, and by the gaining of inward tranquility and oneness of mind, he enters into a state free from verbal thought and rumination, the second trance, which is born of Concentration, and filled with Rapture and Happiness.

And further: after the fading away of rapture, he dwells in equanimity, attentive, clearly conscious; and he experiences in his person that feeling, of which the Noble Ones say: “Happy lives the man of equanimity and attentive mind”-thus he enters the third trance.

And further: after the giving up of pleasure and pain, and through the disappearance of previous joy and grief, he enters into a state beyond pleasure and pain, into the fourth trance, which is purified by equanimity and attentiveness.

The four Trances may be obtained by means of Watching over In-and Out-breathing, as well as through the fourth sublime meditation, the “Meditation of Equanimity,” and others. The three other Sublime Meditations of “Loving Kindness,” “Compassion“, and “Sympathetic Joy” may lead to the attainment of the first three Trances. The “Cemetery Meditations,” as well as the meditation “On Loathsomeness,” will produce only the First Tranche. The “Analysis of the Body,” and the Contemplation on the Buddha, the Law, the Holy Brotherhood, Morality, etc., will only produce Neighborhood-Concentration.

Develop your concentration: for he who has concentration understands things according to their reality. And what are these things?

The arising and passing away of corporeality, of feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. Thus, these five Groups of Existence must be wisely penetrated; Delusion and Craving must be wisely abandoned; Tranquility and Insight must be wisely developed.

This is the Middle Path which the Perfect One has discovered, which makes one both to see and to know, and which leads to peace, to discernment, to enlightenment, to Nirvana. And following this path, you will put an end to suffering.

About sadiksha

Namaste! I am a Nepali Art Dealer specialized in Mandala and Thangka paintings. I love to write articles about the monastic culture of the Himalayas. If you like this post or have any question please leave me a comment or use the contact page to reach me.

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